In keeping with the spirit of the moment, I am proposing a new Olympic event.
The good news is that you don’t have to be swifter, higher or stronger.
The bad news is you have to be contrite, tearful and humble.
The competition? Public apologies.
We have been witness to some gold medal efforts this past week, featuring socko performances from Toyota to Tiger.
Past participants feature a rogues gallery of high profile personalities, many of whom were caught engaged in sexual activities that would make a lumberjack blush.
It seems we live in the Age of Apologies. So it’s about time we recognize those who win our hearts and minds and those who flop in the attempt.
Let the games begin.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda: Pressured into appearing before a congressional committee, he explained that "My name is on every car." He admitted that his company "lacked the customer perspective" when it came to doing recalls, instead relying on technical information.
"Customers have become uncertain about safety of Toyota vehicles and I take responsibility for that," Toyoda said. "I myself as well as Toyota am not perfect."
Well, neither are airline pilots, Mr. Toyoda, but they manage to do their job for the most part with maiming or killing people. It didn’t help Toyoda that he had to appear at a hearing largely characterized by political posturing, which delivered more theater than answers. Bronze medal.
Tiger Woods: For a man who has spent his life in the spotlight, Tiger Woods has never seemed comfortable as a celebrity. Even with the golfing press, for the most part a bunch of fawning sycophants, interviews were curt and to the point.
We thought it was because he was a private person. We now understand he is but for reasons we could not have imagined.
It came as no surprise to me that at his so-called “press conference,” in which he apologized for his promiscuous behavior, he displayed all the emotion of a man studying a tricky downhill putt.
This is a man who is complete control of himself, even when he isn’t.
Did I believe him? Heck yes. Let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be. The guy has fallen from the peak of stardom to the pit of despair. But more than ego, there’s a lot of money involved and he has business partners who want to see him reclaim his image. Sure, he’s sorry.
Nonetheless, his act played well in Peoria. Gold medal.
Mark Sanford. The South Carolina governor told everyone he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when in fact he was winging it down to Argentina to snuggle with his “soul mate.”
It cost him his wife and family but this self-admitted liar and cheat still has his job. No medal.
Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York chose to spend his free time with high-priced prostitutes to the tune of some $80,000. When exposed, he tearfully resigned his office but has managed to keep his family together.
He is now writing political commentary and considering another run for office. Bronze medal.
James McGreevy: The former governor of New Jersey, with is wife at this side, completed the rare double axle by announcing he was going to resign coupled with an admission of his homosexuality. He also admitted to an affair with the man he appointed his Homeland Security advisor.
Since leaving office, he has studied to become an Episcopal priest. Silver medal.
Larry Craig. At a press conference in 2007 Sen. Craig denied allegations that he solicited gay sex in an airport restroom. He apologized, sort of.
He was sorry for pleading guilty, sorry for failing to consult with anyone beforehand and sorry for not telling
anyone he got arrested. He denied wrongdoing, stating, "I am not gay. I never have been gay." No medal.
Latrell Sprewell. The former NBA star apologized for choking his coach PJ Carlesimo. ” I’m sorry for what I did, and if you don’t believe that, I’ll kick your butt.” No medal.
And, of course, Bill Clinton. “Now, this matter is between me, the two people I love most -- my wife and our daughter -- and our God. I must put it right, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so. “Nothing is more important to me personally. But it is private, and I intend to reclaim my family life for my family. It's nobody's business but ours.”
Now we know where Tiger got his script. Bronze medal.